Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Maat Andrews Shopping Guidelines -- Read the Labels

Reading Food Labels Helps You Take Control of Your Health

                Snacking on your favorite grub is a great way to pass the time.  Opening up that favorite brightly colored package can bring indulgent anticipation, and when the last morsel is gone, a yearning for yet another bag fills the mind.  We are so eager to grab and crunch that we don’t even think about what ingredients are in that mouth-watering fav.  Just a word of encouragement to stay on target with your health goals:  Read the label before you partake.  Unquestioning trust is a good thing between individuals, but a proactive, take-charge approach brings the best results when it comes to your health.  If you trust in and shop for a brand name, you may find that brands will change their food products over time.  Label reading can show you how food products can change their ingredients and have you eating the same product but different nutrients, additives, or preservatives.
If your craving is bread, remember not all breads are created equal.  They don’t even have the same basic ingredients as they did a few years back.  When my grandmother made bread, she mixed about six ingredients together: flour, shortening, yeast, water, salt and maybe a little sugar to help the yeast rise.
Using taste as major criteria for developing food items, manufacturers combine addictive flavors to keep you coming back for more of their products. Manufacturers are in business to make money, and they need to do two things: extend the amount of time that a product can stay on the store shelf and reduce the cost of making the food product per item.  You, on the other hand, are buying their products to nourish your body, celebrate the happy joys of life or give yourself a taste-warming hug when things go wrong.  If you shop by product, such as bread, crackers, yogurt or processed convenience foods, you will find that these product ingredients vary widely by type and manufacturer.  So, on a need to know basis, you definitely need to know what is going into your body’s systems.
            Because studies have linked some known killer diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure to obesity, and because the media as well as some other countries are calling us fat, we have started reading labels to manage our fat, carbohydrate and calorie intake. That is a good start, but we need to go a little further. 
Let’s look at the ingredients listed on the packaging of Sara Lee’s Whole Grain White Bread (read healthy).  There are 40 to 41 different ingredients listed, including enriched bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, calcium propionate (preservative), mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides.
What is that enriched bleached flour doing in your bread?  Just a quick explanation, when wheat is separated from its germ, it will naturally turn white over a few days.  But to speed up the process and to ensure predictable profits, chlorine (yes, bleach) is blown over the top of the grain to turn it white immediately.  Of course, the chlorine bleaches out those delicate B vitamins, which can’t take exposure to anything, heat, light or the initial digestive juices in your mouth for some of them like vitamin B12.  So these are added back in artificially.
And look at those other ingredients.  Why are mono- and diglycerides and ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides and calcium propionate (don’t worry, I can’t pronounce those ingredients either) in that staff of life?  The mono and di- thingies make the bread soft to the touch, softening the grain and making it pliable: yummy in your mouth, but gluey in your tummy.  The calcium propionate preserves the bread product for a very long time.  Some preservatives can extend freshness so long that Twinkies have been left in book bags for over a year without noticeable changes to their artificial color or squeezable softness.
These items are not in the food for solely your benefit, but for the profit of the food product manufacturer.  But surely, these ingredients must be proven safe for human use over and over again?  Possibly.
            Some manufacturers have figured out a cool way to manipulate the system.  Food product manufacturers have a governmental body, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to watch over them, and it requires repeated testing with favorable documented results submitted to its offices.  But wait.  Don’t get too comfortable turning over your label-reading responsibility to the government.  Leading staff persons working for the FDA and some food product manufacturers have a revolving door interplay going on:  a few years at the FDA; then a few years at the manufacturers.  While at the FDA, these revolving door personnel can write policy that affect testing and approval requirements for additives and production techniques to favor food production, not the consumer, tax-payer, you.  Then, they can go back over to the industry and benefit from the rules they developed.  So, you ask, who can I trust for healthy food choices?  Yourself, the reader, the consumer.
            Well, you say, yogurt is really safe, right?  It’s got all those probiotics to boost the good enzymes in the digestive tract.  Not so fast, not so simple.  All yogurts are not equal either.   A general rule for label reading is the simpler, the better.  Let’s compare two popular yogurt brands.
Yoplait Blackberry Harvest has cultured pasteurized Grade A low fat milk, sugar, blackberries, modified corn starch, nonfat mild, kosher gelatin, critic acid, colored with beet juice concentrate, tricalcium phosphate, natural flavor, pectin, vitamin A acetate, and vitamin D3. That’s pretty good. 
The Chobani brand is also simple and without unusual additives.  It has more natural ingredients than the Yoplait, if that is important to you.  The components are listed below for your review.
Nonfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei), Evaporated Cane Juice, Blackberries, Pectin, Locust Bean Gum, Natural Flavors.
However, Yoplait’s Gogurt, a toddler-friendly, tub-squeezy, brightly colored yogurt does not fare as well.  The Strawberry Splash and the Berry Blue Blast have no strawberries or blueberries, and they have artificial flavors and colors, hosting the infamous blue dye number one and red dye number 40.  These artificial things can irritate or begin allergies.  Wait a minute, did I leave you with the impression it was all bad?  No.  If you’re feeding your child Gogurt for calcium, then it’s great.  It has cultured, pasteurized grade A low-fat milk.  Oh, yes.  It is also high in sugar which, according to the latest studies, improves calcium absorption.
But let’s look at the blue dye number one.  According to one source, blue dye number one can cause many reactions including, hives, puffy eyelids, dry skin, sneezing, reoccurring ear infections, and over long term use, cancer, digestive upset and even chromosomal damage.  Red dye number 40 may not be as extensive in the damage it does, but it could be more troublesome.  There are known and suspected reactions from sensitive children, especially hyperactivity, dizziness, nervousness, hyperactivity, aggressive behaviors, and inability to concentrate.
You’ve got to hear this.  High fructose corn syrup is causing such a stir; is it good or bad for our health?   The jury is still out, but the evidence is leaning toward the negative for this ubiquitous food additive.  First of all, all sugars are sugars, and this one is no different in the way the body absorbs it.  However, all sugars are harmful to the body if consumed in inordinate proportions.  High fructose corn syrup is so prevalent in any packaged foods that it is being consumed at an alarming rate, so there is damage there.  Also, Dr. Bruce Ames, a nutritional scientist says that reviewing the existing science revealed that HFC can trigger inflammation and obesity throughout the body.
            Now, let’s see if we can wrap up with some really interesting things to look for in label reading, bleached flour, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, food softener, mono- and diglycerides, and high fructose corn syrup and clever terms for sugar, glucose, fructose, especially since over consumption is harmful and hidden in savory products.  Please, the reading lesson is not complete.  “Can’t I just grab a product labeled natural or wholesome,” you ask.  No. Those phrases are advertising strategies and not declarations of processes or how the food product can affect consumers’ health.
            As Epicurus might say, eat hearty and enjoy.  But remember, you are responsible for your own health, and only you can read the labels.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Larger Reality

Tom Campbell is a physict, who has explored the physical and non-physical worlds.  This workshop can be very helpful for those who want to evolve.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mother Wit

Carefully, we should approach the aisles of foods and read labels to determine the content of whatever processed foods we put in out buggies. We must buy local and avoid monster foods that are genetically modified but not labeled as such.  Buy fresh!

Friday, February 24, 2012